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Pittman Era Motors Page

Pittman Motors

Special thanks go to Mr. Bob Steere, who kindly provided at his own expense in time and effort most of the scans of Pittman Specification Sheets and photographs of Pittman motors used in this section .  All of the scans and photos Bob provided are from his collection of Pittman motors.  Thanks, Bob!

 

Pittman Electrical Developments Company found itself well placed in the early 1960's to dominate the marketplace in the new competitive world of 1/32 scale club and 1/32 & 1/24 scale commercial slot car racing  And for a while, dominate they certainly did.

This Sellersville, Pennsylvania based manufacturing company already had an extensive product line of high quality miniature permanent magnet direct current (DC) motors, many of which were originally developed for model trains and model boats.   It didn't take long for Pittman to notice that their motors were powering many race-winning slot cars, and begin to adapt certain models in their product line specifically for slot racers.

Some of the adaptations were genuine improvements in performance, but a few appear to have been simply marketing.  One example of a "marketing improvement" is the introduction of the X-Motors; DC-65X and DC-85X.  What is it about the term "X"?

By early 1963, Pittman had upgraded the mechanical design of the original DC-65 and DC-85, and had re-named them DC-65A and DC-85A, although they were still 12 volt motors.  By mid 1963 Pittman offered both of these upgraded models in 6 volt versions which they called the DC-65A-6 and DC-85A-6.  Late in 1963 Pittman introduced two "new" models called the DC-65X and DC-85X.  Super motors, right?

Unfortunately, all the historical evidence indicates that except for slight differences in the configuration of their laminated magnet fields, the DC-65A-6 and the  DC-65X motors were different in name only.  The DC-85A-6 and DC-85X had no detectable differences at all.  For more information, click here.

None of this seemed to matter; by early 1964, slot car motors made by the now re-named Pittman Corporation were so much in demand that for a time Pittman couldn't manufacture them fast enough:

 

Here's a list of model numbers and specifications for the Pittman motors most often used in slot cars:

 

Quality and durability were two features Pittman prided itself in, they took it all very seriously and even bought ads to point this out:

Their products were in fact very well built and about as bullet-proof as you could get.  These features served well as selling points for model train and boat motors, and in the early 1960's for slot car motors as well.

Unfortunately as time went on, the slot racer's real requirements in motors - speed, power, smaller size and lighter weight, pretty much in that order, were being better met by the cheaper, faster, smaller, lighter throw-away "tin can" motors made by Japanese companies. 

In a sense, the Japanese companies started out with a lucky break; can motors, by design, are inherently better suited to slot racing than any other configuration, and up until early 1966, Pittman hadn't made any can motors that could be used in slot cars.

To make matters worse, while rabid racers surely did appreciate design and manufacturing quality, they always selected (or built) their motors based on the twin priorities of maximum speed and power, which were not Pittman's top priorities.  The need for durability wasn't ignored (you can't win if you don't finish, right?), but that requirement extended no farther then the finish line in the particular race the rabid racer was running in.

In early 1966, Pittman did make an attempt to cater directly to the needs of the rabid racers; producing a can motor they called the DC-6001.  It was well designed, well built and highly durable.  It was also faster than all earlier Pittman motors.  Unfortunately, it was still too large, too heavy and just not fast enough to compete with the cheaper, faster, smaller, lighter throw-away tin cans.

In what seemed like a last ditch effort to remain competitive, Pittman then produced, in late 1966, a high performance version of the 6001 armature, whose part number was the same as the stock armature except it was appended with the letter "X".  This time it was an X-Armature, rather than an X-Motor.  For more information, click here.

Ultimately, Pittman would not compromise its dedication to quality and durability, and the rabid racers could not (at the risk of losing races) compromise their priorities for speed and power.  In the end, these were divergent paths.  After the 6001, Pittman's active participation in slot racing was all but over.

 

Click below for photos, drawings, specification sheets and additional technical history by model or model-family:

DC-60, DC-62 and DC-63 DC-65 DC-66 and DC-77
DC-70 DC-71, DC-81 and DC-91 DC-84 and DC-86
DC-85 DC-105 and 106 DC-195 and DC-196
DC-703, 704, 705 and DC-706 DC-6001 and DC-6001BB DC-8001 and DC-9003

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